This needs to be addressed: Beilein's lineup combinations/Jon Horford

Submitted by Nick on March 22nd, 2011 at 1:01 AM


Horford will NOT be playing the 4.  I've seen it advocated far too many times.

I know a lot of people like to take a roster and parce out players with potential for an increased role (Horford) and throw them into a lineup w/o considering the coach, the system and the role.

Barring a major change in philosophy (not impossible) from Coach Beilein, we will stick with our "5-out" / "1-post" offense.  While being relatively adaptive, Beilein knows what is takes to make his offense work, structures his lineups in a manner conducive to scoring and is very creative with defensive tactics (1-3-1 /2-3 zone, smart double-recover schemes) to hide the deficiencies that playing unorthodox creates.

All it takes is one look at what Novak and Smotrycz do at the four spot in this offense to realize that Jon Horford will not be able to do these things.  

Horford is strictly a 5 as are Morgan and McLimans.  Playing for other coaches, things might be different.  It is good to have depth at center and it presents a bit of a roster inefficiency where-in 40 minutes seem too few for Jon and Jordan, given their potential.  That's where we see uninformed posters try to cram Horford into a role on this team for which he is unsuited.

Do any of you see Horford running off of screens? Driving after a shot fake? Cutting back door?  If you do, you need to get better at watching basketball.  If you don't and you still think Coach will stick him in at the 4 to 'get our size on the court' and 'let Novak play wing', you need a reality check.  

Smotrycz will get most of the PF minutes next year and Novak will likely get most of the backup minutes there while starting on the wing.  Horford may tantalize with ability at times, but he and Jordan will get no more than 40 mins together.  Just how good Horford becomes will determine the rationing of minutes at the 5 and not how many minutes they should play together. Beilein's offense works because of spacing and playing one big creates that. He has a track record at Michigan of playing only one big and while that could change in the future, I will believe it when I see it



March 22nd, 2011 at 1:09 AM ^

I believe Beilein will play whatever starting roster he feels will give him the best advantage.

We haven't had that many bigs, so he's had gameplan accordingly.  He's a smart coach, he'll do what is necessary.  Plus, given Morgan's tendency to get early foul trouble, I see no problem with him substituting in for him and splitting time.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:11 AM ^

Dude, I love the enthusiasm, but I'm pretty sure the coaches and players are taking some time off after a great season ending just a little over a day ago. Maybe you should too. 


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:13 AM ^

Off topic, yet on topic.

I was looking over Beilein's career... and I forgot that the year before he came to Michigan his team was 22–9.  And they didn't make the big dance and drew a #1 seed in the 2007 NIT.  What a shaft!


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:14 AM ^

The problem with that team is we finished really poorly after a hot start.  To top it off, Courtney Sims missed a dunk against #1 Ohio State at home and we blew a 4 point lead.  Then we got upset in the first round of the Big Ten Tourney.


So while our overall record was good, we were not headed in the right direction and the committee didnt' like that.


March 22nd, 2011 at 3:21 AM ^

I am not sure, but I think she or he was talking about Beilein's final WVU team that got the #1 seed in the NIT. And I remember that WVU team did get shafted out of the big dance. If you are talking about Amaker's last Michigan team, they were 22-13 or something close, and I believe 7th in the Big Ten.


March 22nd, 2011 at 8:07 AM ^

We also didn't get upset in the first round of the BTT that year (2007).  We beat Minnesota in the first round and then lost to OSU (our last chance for a big win) in the quarterfinals.

He/she may be confusing the 2007 BTT with the 2006 BTT -- in which case, yeah, we got upset by a dogshit Minnesota team which probably cost us a tourney bid that year.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:13 AM ^

Under the system we ran this season, I agree, there's no way (barring dramatic improvement  in his perimeter skills).  But before he came to Michigan, Beilein never even used his 5 like he does with Morgan (Pittsnogle was strictly an outside guy), either.  He adapted his offense to make use of Morgan's skills down low.  If Horford develops into anything like his older brother, Beilein will have to find a way to get him on the court.  


March 22nd, 2011 at 10:08 AM ^

I don't think that the OP was saying that he wouldn't start the players that he thinks will give us the best chance to win.  I think he was commenting on who JB is likely to believe WILL give us the best chance to win.  Not sure why that deserved the "get a life" attack, as the post was well reasoned and not controversial. 

That said, I disagree with the OP, as well, in that I think that JB is adaptive and will not net Horford's potential go unused.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:17 AM ^

I don't expect the minutes and roles to change dramatically.  Novak will keep getting most of the minutes at 4 because that's where he fits best.  Smotrycz keeps coming of the bench but plays a little more.  The biggest change will be that Stu won't have to play backup PG and Novak won't have to play so many minutes.

el segundo

March 22nd, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

if Michigan is going to get substantially better next year, Smotrycz should take the bulk of the minutes at the 4, with Novak subbing for him and getting time at the 3.

I think that Smotrycz is the key to team-wide improvement.  If he gets more minutes at the 4, Novak and Douglass can play roles in which they are no longer asked to do too much and in which they can concentrate on their strengths.  in that situation, they will both be better shooters and more effective defenders.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:26 AM ^

I will play the game of beginner and ask why "5 out" and "1 in" would lead a novice to believe that there is 6 players on the court?  When you begin your paragraph descibing what these six players on offense are doing dont confuse me (in the same paragraph no less) talking about 1-3-1 and 2-3 defense and recover schemes. Also, when you conduct an informative dialogue on basketball omit the word "tantalize" it tends to undermine your information to a sensational, circus type, version of x's and o's.


March 22nd, 2011 at 1:55 AM ^

1st) "5-out" and "1-post" or "1-hi post" are different names for his offense.  I wasn't saying we'd have 5 guys on the perimeter and 1 post player.  It is 5-out because often his center operates from the top of the key.

2nd) I was stating that Beilein, because he has creative well-coached defenses, can create offensive lineups that don't necessarily conform to people's perception of a standard offense.

3rd) I should have put the word tantalize in quotes as its something ive heard thrown around metaphorically to horford's potential.  I also don't see how one descriptive term undermines the basketball concepts i put forward.

Also for those that think Novak will start at the 4.  I don't think this is likely, but it is debatable.  Smotrcyz was in the starting lineup for much of the season.  The quality of the defense is capped essentially by Novak at the 4.  Smotrycz is presently a bad to mediocre defender and his lack of quickness and instincts defending on the perimeter led to Beilein working with him at the 5 a lot in practice and eventually taking most of his minutes there.

The 4 spot is Smot's natural spot and I think it is likely, with improved defense, that he resumes the bulk of the minutes there.  I think Evan makes the biggest leap on the team next season.

The reason this particular Michigan team is dangerous is not because they have 4 guards. They aren't good because of a quickness advantage. 

The reason they're good is because they have a point guard and 3 other players who can shoot and know how to read screens(which means that having Smotrycz at the 4 provides the same floor spacing quality that having Novak there does).

I will have a friendly debate with you guys all day on this.  Beilein has proven in his 4 years here that this is likely how he will coach (playing only 1 big)


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:13 AM ^

And I quote: "Barring a major change in philosophy (not impossible) from Coach Beilein, we will stick with our "5-out" / "1-post" offense."

What Nick actually said.

What you said.

"I will play the game of beginner and ask why "5 out" and "1 in" would lead a novice to believe that there is 6 players on the court? "

You took something totally out of context, and flamed the hell out of him for making a logical point and legitimately contributing to the discussion in this thread. Something that you as a "novice", failed to even attempt.

But alas, haterz gone hate.


March 22nd, 2011 at 2:28 AM ^

1's  Morris, Burke (maybe Douglass if needed)

2's/3's - Hardaway, Douglass, Vogrich, Dumars, Brundidge

4's - Novak, Smotrycz, Christian

5's Morgan, Horford, McLimans


I am  wondering where Beilein is going to find minutues for all these guys. My guess is we see some strange lineup's early in the year working it out. 

I would say there is no chance Burke redshirts. Morris could leave after next year and Stu would be gone leaving no one to play PG except Burke. Burke will get quality time this year backing up Morris. No idea if Brundidge would redshirt. 




March 22nd, 2011 at 6:26 AM ^

Jon06 - I'll  take a whack at your question.  I don't think that Vogrich can play the 1 spot.  He would need a TON of ball handling work, in order to do that.  I just don't think that's happenin'.  It makes a lot of sense to get at least one of the freshmen some minutes in case Morris leaves after next year. 

IPFW - good point about strange line ups next season.  Beilein will probably throw a lot of different combinations out there early in the seasons to see which ones roll better. 

It's gonna be a fun ride.  This season just ended, but I can't wait. 


March 22nd, 2011 at 6:22 AM ^

Very true, however Coach Beilein has never really had the option to have TWO talented big man at the same time. 

He very well could show us wrinkles to his offensive/defensive system we haven't seen yet. 


March 22nd, 2011 at 7:45 AM ^

Hopefully Evan will learn to defend well enough over the summer so the bulk of his minutes will be at the 4 again, and Horford grows enough as a player, where he can take the minutes at the 5 when Morgan is on the bench for foul trouble or rest instead of Evan.


March 22nd, 2011 at 8:48 AM ^

Given all the individual time Beilein has spent with Horford this year, I am guessing the man has a plan for the player. We'll find out next year, but it's exciting to know the Michigan has four different guys 6-8 or taller who will be on the court for their second season next year. I think we'll be pleasantly surprised at how these bigs are used. The kids have talent and great coaching

Blue boy johnson

March 22nd, 2011 at 10:33 AM ^

Horford surprised me with his willingness to take the 3, his ability to pass and his overall mobility. He's not ready to be a perimeter threat yet..... but with hard work his potential is pretty high. Belien has already stated on numerous occasions the willingness and ability of Horford to get better.

My ideal for M next year (unrealistic for sure), is to redshirt Horford and Christian and give their games time to develop. A redshirt for those 2 also breaks up the 6 freshman in one class issue we currently have.

Naked Bootlegger

March 22nd, 2011 at 10:57 AM ^

Agree... Horford was not shy about launching 3's when the opportunity presented itself this year.  And JB dropped hints early in the year that Horford was a proficient shooter from long range during practice sessions, so this will hopefully parlay into game success at some point soon.   I do recall hearing some pre-season buzz that McLimans also had some range, so we'll just have to see if Horford and McLimans can be at least somewhat of a threat from long range by the time they're juniors.

As far as the redshirt idea during their sophomore year, has this happened recently anywhere for non-injury purposes?  I actually think this strategy could work out well under certain circumstances.  I don't know if taking both Horford and Christian out of the rotation for a some redshirt seasonsing would realistically happen.   I think in JB's perfect world, Horford would be a reliable sub for Morgan, and Smot could do most of his work at the "4" position.  But stranger things have happened.




March 22nd, 2011 at 11:14 AM ^

I'm hoping that Evan develops so he can play more minutes at the four.

What I'm really, really, really excited about is the prospect of running the Jordan Morgan pick and roll all game because Horford can run it effectively too.

I wouldn't put a limit on what John Beilein is going to do flexibility wise. The man is flexible. He will do whatever gives the team the best chance to win.


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:57 AM ^

I see Smot getting the starts at the 4 next year.  At least i hope so.  i think that would give us our most productive lineup. 

However, remember that Horford is only a true freshman.  It is entirely possible that his outside shot could improve down the road.  If that happens, he could be a threat at the 4 position in beilein's offense.  obviously, not at this time though.  i do like his upside on the defensive side of the court.


March 22nd, 2011 at 4:59 PM ^

I heard he's bringing out a revolutionary new defense - the 0-5-0 Zone, otherwise know as the Beilein Wall.  He's gonna need all the bigs.


March 22nd, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

However, I can more easily see him being played at the 4 than I could have forseen Smotrycz being played at the 5 this year.

What I would like to see is Smotrycz grow into the 4 and share it with either Horford or McLimans.  The 5 goes to Morgan and either Horford or McLimans.  Novack spends most or all of his time at the 3 or 2.  Douglass backs up the 2.   Morris runs the point with back up from Burke.  Brundege, Christain and Vogrich can play multiple positions off the bench.

It is going to be very interesting to see how all of these guys develope in the off season and how Beilein ends up using them.


March 22nd, 2011 at 7:24 PM ^

If Evan can become the type of defender that Zack is I would love to see him at the 4 and move Zack to the 3. It does seem like Even got a little more scrappy towards the end of the year, hopefully he continues to develop that part of his game. I would love to see Horford develop into a Jordan Morgan type guy so that those guys could be interchangable with out missing a beat when Morgan gets into foul trouble.


March 22nd, 2011 at 11:56 PM ^

Horford will have a "leap" year.  Neither his dad nor his brother was great as a freshman, though he brother did get more PT.  I think it's still a little early to throw an 18 or 19 year-old freshman under the bus.